Gitana 11 returns to the waters of La Trinité between the squalls
At the end of April, Gitana 11 limped into the hangars of St Philibert, SW Brittany after weaknesses were observed on the maxi-trimaran’s floats by Yann Guichard during a solo offshore training session. Now, following a six week refit and some exemplary work carried out by Gitana Team’s shore crew, everything appears to be shipshape and the damage, which originally forced the Gitana skipper to make a few days stopover in Ireland, is imperceptible. As such the revamped multihull is already in her Route du Rhum configuration as she sits alongside the pontoons of La Trinité-sur-Mer.
Friday 11th June – Though it is said that a rainy launch is a happy launch, that of Gitana 11 has proven to be particularly successful! The maxi-multihull, fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, left her technical base in St Philibert in driving rain this Friday afternoon. Fortunately, the weather was a little milder at the point where she was returned to the liquid element and, as planned, shortly before 1800 hours local time, the shore crew cast off from the launch slipway. “It’s always an intense day and this was particularly true here as we were all too aware that it’s the last launch of Gitana 11 prior to the start of the Route du Rhum. As a result we made the most of this time in the yard to move the refit initially scheduled for the summer forward. The whole team has rallied around so that the boat could be repaired and made reliable within this time frame. The timing was tight but it was perfectly respected. I’m now itching to head back offshore and continue my preparation for the next Route du Rhum” stated Yann Guichard.
A reminder of the facts
Midway through April, Yann Guichard headed offshore for five to six days of solo training. At that stage the extended Gitana 11 was yet to sail in some rough conditions and the skipper of the Gitana Team was well aware of how precious such outings were in familiarising himself with the machine and honing his skills. After a long day sailing downwind in a very steady breeze (between 25 and 30 knots) and big seas, Gitana 11 switched over to some upwind sailing, bound for Ireland. Twenty-four hours later, Yann spotted the start of some delamination on the starboard float, forward of the beam. As a precaution and to ensure the trimaran wasn’t damaged, he opted to make a stopover to effect repairs and then quickly set sail for La Trinité-sur-Mer again. The boat was to be lifted out of the water two days after her return.
Next on the agenda was a refit aimed at repairing the damaged zone and reinforcing the entire length of the float. As a precaution, the port float also received the same treatment. “The whole shore crew has worked flat out so that Gitana 11 could be relaunched as quickly as possible and Yann could continue with his training programme with a view to his participation in the Route du Rhum. The boat is ready for action and when I look at the work that’s been carried out on her over the past six weeks, I feel very proud of the team. This refit session has strengthened our cohesion and today’s a great moment of satisfaction for everyone”admitted William Fabulet, the technical manager responsible for the refit, as the 77 foot trimaran left the yard.
At the start of the SNSM record
Gitana 11 will make her first official outing on Sunday 20th June for the 6th edition of the SNSM record, the start of which will take place at 1400 hours local time. This ‘record-race’, which each year gathers together an assorted fleet of both professionals and amateurs, was created back in 2005, with the goal of promoting safety at sea and encouraging support for the volunteer lifeboat men and women from the SNSM (French equivalent of the RNLI).
The only boat from the G-Class present in St Nazaire, the most modern of the Gitana fleet is nevertheless the 58th yacht to confirm its entry in the SNSM Record 2010. For now, Gitana 11 is set to cover the greatest distance imposed by the organisers, namely a 360 mile course which consists of a two looped circuit between Saint-Nazaire and Sainte-Marine, at the entrance to the Odet River. Yann Guichard will be accompanied by five experienced sailors during this event.